August 6th, 2014
I tweet, Facebook, and blog about restaurants on a regular basis, but I don’t Yelp. I’m not sure why other than the fact that I don’t really use Yelp to help me find places to visit. The few times I have used it have been disappointing, probably because I am very picky. Translation: I’m vegan and in the past the network has not been as helpful for my goals.
A couple weeks ago I was at one of my favorite local restaurants and the owner said his vegan cake would be at the Yelp party in a few days. Yelp party? What’s that? He gave me a flyer and explained that several local restaurants would be there and all were asked to have vegan options for guests. In addition, the event was an opportunity to help raise money for a local nonprofit that I like. I was in!
Wanting to go, I figured out I first needed to become part of the network. Okay. I signed up and received an email I was on the list to attend the party. The event was held in one of my favorite local bars, would have live music, support a local nonprofit, and have free drinks and vegan food. Score!
I was also excited to see how a social network would bring digital relationships to life. Yelper only parties are happening all over the country.
Unfortunately, score was not my outcome. I did get a small piece of vegan cake, but none of the other restaurants had vegan options. The band was good, but so loud I couldn’t talk with anyone. And, overall, I couldn’t get the point.
Wait, why was Yelp having a party anyway? There was SWAG (stuff we all get, like magnets or sunglasses) to take home, but I’m not into SWAG. Restaurants were there, but I couldn’t eat the food or talk to the representatives. I did talk with the people from the nonprofit, but that was because I know them and we caught up (i.e. yelled at each other for a few minutes).
If the purpose of Yelp is to connect people to local businesses, this was a fail. I didn’t meet anyone new and none of the other Yelpers were talking with anyone either. After about an hour, I went home. I was surprised there were not ambassadors helping make sure the event accomplished the goal of the network.
Events are a common tactic to help connect brands to their customers. We often recommend them when appropriate. However, we also work hard to make sure events meet pre-established goals. Yelp needed someone at the party to at least turn down the music so people could talk.